How Actors Learn Stunt Driving

Insurance carriers on movies become apoplectic when actors insist on doing their own stunts. However, they’re willing to pay the price when they don’t want to lose the star, and the star wants to be a stunt man. Or woman. Before we start on stunt driving, let’s look at two actors who did stunts based on martial arts training. Jackie Chan has remarked that over time he has broken every bone in his body. His orthopedic surgeons must love him — he paid for several vacation houses. Chuck Norris is also famous for no cutaways in his action scenes. He’s a former undefeated karate champion and would still be pretty scary at 72.

Chan and Norris are famous for martial arts. But what about stunt driving in films? Dwayne Johnson once discussed working closely with Rick Seaman for the role in the movie “Faster.” He referred to driving 80 to 90 miles per hour in city traffic. The clip Johnson brought along showed him driving a Chevelle (his favorite stunt car) at high speed. In reverse.

Rick Seaman has been a stunt man since 1973 in movies such as The Other Guys, The Bucket List, Dukes of Hazzard, After the Sunset, and Catch Me If You Can, as well as the documentary Behind the Action: Stuntmen in the Movies. He runs the Rick Seaman Stunt Driving School, where Dwayne Johnson learned how to get it done. Dwayne Johnson was asked how he perfected the frightening scowl he’s famous for. His answer was “watching Clint Eastwood movies.” Think about it — that’s exactly how you could learn it.

Aspiring stunt drivers also know the name of Jeremy Fry, who has won two World Stunt Awards for The Bourne Ultimatum and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Other credits include Get Smart, Don’t Fearless Nadia Mess with the Zohan, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Fry is also a stunt double and stunt coordinator. He’s even consulted on TV’s Fear Factor.

How do you learn stunt driving? You can spend a half day with the IFPDI course, riding with an experienced stun driver. Then learn about the vehicle. Classroom instruction is available, teaching you braking and heart-pounding slides. But more learning takes place in the car rather than in the classroom. One instructor teaches a maximum of four students in the pro-stunts course. How will you look on camera? Why not prove to yourself that you have nerves of steel?


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